Traditional sculpture and art of the Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw nation are at the heart of the new Kwa’lilas Hotel in Port Hardy, B.C. Local indigenous artists submitted their work to a selection committee of nation Elders, and the selected works were then incorporated by Vancouver based Inside Design Studio to create a truly unique boutique hotel.
The traditional art combined with modern, clean hospitality design provides balance and contrast with stunning results. Traditional colours are set against earth tones creating a synergy between the art of the Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw nation and the function of a modern boutique hotel. Copper, a traditional material used by the Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw people, was used to create the large installation in the lobby. The stunning piece depicts village life and the passage of time and gives the hotel a strong identity, closely tying it to its location.
The concept was to design a modern boutique hotel to support international tourism to the unspoiled north of Vancouver Island. The Hotel is a for-profit venture of the Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw nation and provides a sustainable venue for the nation to present their cultural stories and artwork to visitors.
In guest rooms, blankets with traditional designs and colours are used to accent crisp white bed sheets. Symmetrical animal carvings are incorporated into headboards and highlighted with subtle lighting. In the king suite, a modern, round, cedar carving was chosen as the centrepiece for the bathroom.
Every piece of art was created for a specific location within the hotel and has been set against a simple background to allow the art to be the room focal point. Screens within the guest rooms, for example, made with laser cut aluminum, illustrate traditional art using a contemporary material. They are positioned in the rooms to cast moving shadows from the large windows.
The resulting design delivers the comfort and spatial expectations of a modern boutique hotel while incorporating the unique traditional art and sculpture to tell the story of the hotel’s location and the history of its native people. The Kwa’lilas Hotel has 85 guest rooms and is now open.